The German RELOAD Project hands over a solar drier to Makerere for research to address reduction of Post Harvest Losses and enhancing value addition.
The Principal Prof. Bernard Bashaasha and German Project Coordinator Michael Hesse shake hands to symbolise the hand over of the facility.
The German RELOAD Project has officially handed over a solar drier research facility to Makerere University. Donated by University of Kassel, Germany to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), the solar drier was delivered and installed at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute (MUARIK) in December, 2015.
The research facility was officially handed over to Makerere University by the German RELOAD Project Coordinator Michael Hesse and received by the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha on Wednesday 9th March 2016 at MUARIK.
RELAOD is a five year Project (2013-2018) funded by GlobE at an estimated budget of 500,000 Euros. In full RELOAD stands for Reduction of Post Harvest Losses and Value addition in East African Food Value Chains.
Post Harvest Losses (PHL) destroy between 20-60% of East Africa’s food production thus heavily contributing to the devastating nutritional situation, wastage of resources and rural poverty. PHL occur during harvest, drying, storage, transportation, processing, retail and consumer level. For milk, meat and a number of vegetables and fruits, roots and tubers, insufficient cooling and unhygienic handling are the main causes.
The solar drier that was handed over to Makerere University for research
RELOAD’s aim is to establish a development oriented inter and trans-disciplinary African- German Research Network in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia to address reduction of Post Harvest Losses and enhancing value addition.
The selected East African countries are each characterized by specific dominating commodity: Kenya (meat and milk), Uganda (fruits and vegetables with focus on plantain, and Ethiopia (cereals and tubers).
Handing over the facility, the German Project Coordinator, Michael Hesse expressed the Germans confidence in Makerere University’s capacity to manage and utilize the facility efficiently.
“I am very glad to see that the University has done everything possible to prepare the foundation and accurately installed the equipment. I am also glad that serious work can start. I appeal to students to use this opportunity because it is a good devise for higher level scientific research", He said.
Micheal Hesse giving his remarks
Receiving the facility, the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha hailed the Germans for the resource and thanked the project team from German and East Africa for prioritizing and including the solar drier in the proposal.
He said the facility will be useful to students and Makerere as an institution and, will serve as an important learning centre for post harvest handling to the surrounding community and other people beyond the university.
“The other important element is the quality aspect. We have a lot of aflotoxins traced back in the way we handle our food, so if the facility can dry commodities quickly then, we will reduce losses”, The Principal said.
Prof. Bernard Bashaasha - Left giving his remarks
Prof. Bashaasha also commended the project for the institutional and regional partnerships. “Capacity building is what we are lacking. I am happy with the collaboration with the College of Design , Art and Technology (CEDAT) and the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), he noted.
The Principal expressed the University commitment to take care of the facility in terms of security, maintenance and utilization.
The Project Coordinator, Makerere University Dr. Susan Balaba Tumwebaze said RELOAD also procured a portable solar drier for field research for the Germany student doing research on pineapples in Ntungamo district in Uganda. A set of equipment was also procured for students doing research at MUARIK to establish the best way of drying commodities. The equipment which includes the airflow meter, data logger, humidity and temperature loggers among others will be used to measure climate, wind, humidity and temperature in the facility.
Dr. Susan Balaba Tumwebaze giving her remarks
She said nine (09)students are being funded by RELOAD at Makerere University. Of these, three( 03) MSc. students and one (01 ) PhD student are from the Department of Agricultural and Bio systems engineering. One (01) MSc. student is from the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource economics while two (02) students are doing MSc. in Renewable energy. The Department of Chemistry has one (01) PhD and one (01) MSc. Student.
Dr. Susan Balaba explained that the consortium comprises three (03) German and six (06) African universities, research institutions and private sector representatives (SMEs).
“RELOAD includes seven sub projects such as Economy, Technology, Dairy, Fruit and Vegetables, Staple foods, Meat and Social sciences. The RELOAD Program not only intensifies existing scientific links between German and East African Research institutions but also enhances South to South scientific cooperation”. The don said.
A student from CEDAT Edwin Musinguzi displays and explains the equipment he received for research
Dr. Balaba further said that RELOAD’s integrated approach addresses the whole food value chain, including scientific base capacity building, handling and processing at small holder level, transport, storage, processing and market access. The referring target groups comprise East African scientific Networks, Administrations, SMEs, farmers and civil society actors.
She said the simultaneous treatment of agricultural, technological, economic and social issues allows an efficient and sustainable improvement of East African food system.
Report compiled by:
Communication Officer, CAES